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|Angelo Ruggiero Sr.|
U.S. Department of Justice picture of Angelo Ruggiero Sr.
July 29, 1940|
The Bronx, New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||December 5, 1989
Queens, New York City, New York, U.S.
|Cause of death||Lung cancer|
|Other names||"The Perle Mesta of the Mob", "Quack Quack"|
|Known for||Member of the Gambino crime family|
Angelo Salvatore Ruggiero Sr. (pronounced roo-JEH-roh) (July 29, 1940 – December 5, 1989) was a member of the Gambino crime family and a friend of John Gotti. Under Gotti's leadership, Ruggiero became a caporegime although he became widely seen as an over-talkative enforcer type without the astuteness needed for running lucrative rackets. Gotti, by then the most targeted criminal in the country, came to share that assessment amid mounting investigative pressure and costly blunders by the indiscreet Ruggiero, who had completely fallen from favour by the time of his death. The FBI regarded Ruggiero, whose open defiance of law enforcement extended to swearing at the judge during a hearing, as an unpredictable psychopath not amenable to confrontational tactics.
- 1 Mob family roots
- 2 Perceptions of Ruggiero
- 3 Medical history
- 4 Early years
- 5 McBratney and Castellano slayings
- 6 Ruggiero and Dellacroce
- 7 Ruggiero and Castellano
- 8 Ruggiero and the Gottis
- 9 Relationship with Wilfred Johnson
- 10 Threatening Ronald Reagan
- 11 The tapes
- 12 The murder of DiBernardo and attempted murder of Casso
- 13 Personal toll over Salvatore's death
- 14 Actions at 1985 preliminary hearing
- 15 Falling out with John Gotti and death
- 16 Portrayals in film and television
- 17 Further reading
- 18 References
- 19 External links
Mob family roots
Ruggiero's father was a first-generation immigrant from Naples Italy who was not involved in organized crime. Ruggiero's mother was Emma Campasano. Ruggiero's brother was Gambino associate Salvatore Ruggiero Sr. and the brother of John Ruggiero born June 9, 1946 and Francis A. "Little Frankie" Ruggiero born c.a. 1964. Ruggiero's nephew is mob associate Salvatore Ruggiero Jr. Ruggiero's cousins include Gambino underboss Aniello Dellacroce and Sean and Shannon Connelly. Ruggiero is also a distant relative to John Gotti through John and Aniello's shared mistress, Shannon Connelly.
Perceptions of Ruggiero
Angelo's former criminal attorney, Jeffrey C. Hoffman described him as a "very caring family man." Law enforcement authorities describe Ruggiero as a stocky and garrulous man with a gravelly voice brought on from years of cigarette smoke that sounded like a cement truck mixer. In court, Detective Michael Falcone said, "Heavy, Bullface. You know, he wasn't a handsome guy. How would I describe him? Animal or human? He looked like a fire pump." Special FBI Agent Bruce Mouw later commented, "He helped take down the Gambino crime family because of his big mouth. Criminal associates compared him to Marcus Junius Brutus, the Roman senator who assassinated Julius Caesar, due to Ruggiero's manipulative personality when planning the murders of Paul Castellano and Robert DiBernardo and failed murder attempt on Anthony Casso.
Gravano once remarked on Ruggiero:
I liked Angelo, he had a lot of balls. Not too much in the brains department. But he seemed then like an up-front guy. He caused a lot of people heartaches with his mistakes, his actions, everything he was doing. He was crude, but he was funny with his crudeness. He could make you laugh. So I kind of liked him.
During one of Ruggiero's court hearings, Ruggiero's son started talking to him from the spectator area. When the judge told his son to be quiet, Ruggiero said to the judge, "What the fuck is this, Russia? Who the fuck are you to tell me I can't talk to my son?" The judge became enraged at Ruggiero's outburst. After a heated argument, the judge revoked Ruggiero's bail and sent him back to prison.
One indication of how dangerous law enforcement considered Ruggiero to be came when the head of the FBI's anti-Gotti squad was informed that Ruggiero, incensed at his house being bugged, had sworn to kill a special agent who had signed the warrant. The commander of the squad decided against warning Ruggiero off directly out of concern he might take being confronted about his threat as a dare to fulfil it. Instead, Gotti was visited at his house and cautioned of serious consequences for him if any harm befell an FBI agent.
It is speculated that Ruggiero suffered from Antisocial personality disorder, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Tourette syndrome which earned him the moniker of "The Perle Mesta of the Mob". He earned the name "Quack Quack" from his extreme talkative nature and because he suffered from plantar fasciitis, a painful inflammatory process of the feet of which the most telltale sign was his duck-like waddle. Ruggiero later suffered from obesity and eventually died from lung cancer.
Angelo Salvatore Ruggiero Sr. was born at Lutheran Hospital and raised in the East New York section of Brooklyn. A high school dropout, Ruggiero grew up with future Gambino boss John Gotti and underboss Sammy Gravano. In the 1950s, Ruggiero was arrested for street fighting, public intoxication, car theft, bookmaking, possession of an illegal firearm, and burglary. Several of his recorded arrests as a juvenile delinquent were in the company of John Gotti. In 1966, Ruggiero and Gotti were arrested for attempting to steal a cement mixer truck.
On May 22, 1973, Ruggiero, Gotti, and a Gambino gunman killed mobster James McBratney in a Staten Island, New York bar. McBratney had recently tried to kidnap a Gambino loanshark for ransom and the family leadership wanted him dead. The plan was to lure McBratney out of the bar before shooting him, but McBratney refused to cooperate and the gunmen shot him there. Gotti and Ruggiero were later convicted of manslaughter and sent to prison. In July 1977, both men were released on parole. Soon after their release, Ruggiero and Gotti were inducted into the Gambino family as made men in a ceremony officiated by family boss Paul Castellano, consigliere Joseph N. Gallo and underboss Dellacroce. It is suggested by law enforcement that Dellacroce's role as underboss and fondness for John Gotti and his nephew were the reasons they were promoted to "made men".
From 1977 to 1984, to satisfy his parole conditions, Ruggiero took a no-show job as a salesman for Arc Plumbing and Heating Corporation, which was owned by Gambino associates Anthony and Caesar Gurino. After his brother Salvatore became a wanted fugitive, he and Gene Gotti kept in touch by calling Salvatore "just about every night from various public phone booths."
McBratney and Castellano slayings
Ruggiero was involved in the 1973 murder of James McBratney with Gotti and Ralph Galione. Ruggiero also participated in the 1985 slaying of Gambino leader Paul Castellano. Finally, Ruggiero was suspected in the 1980 disappearance of John Favara, a neighbor of Gotti who had killed Gotti's 12-year-old son Frank in a car accident. Ruggiero was later the subject of a government undercover investigation. Mobster turned government informant Wilfred Johnson provided investigators with the layout for Ruggerio's home so that they could install for bugs and wire taps. Investigators monitored Ruggiero's activities in narcotics. Investigators later recorded conversations between Ruggiero and Gene Gotti that implicated the two men in Castellano's murder.
Ruggiero and Dellacroce
Angelo's uncle, Aniello Dellacroce, was an original supporter of Gambino boss Albert Anastasia who became underboss under Anastasia's successor, Carlo Gambino. Before Gambino died, he named Paul Castellano as boss with Dellacroce remaining as underboss. Although Dellacroce was unhappy with Gambino's decision, he supported Castellano in the name of family unity.
Although Dellacroce helped Ruggiero during his early years with the family, many observers felt that Dellacroce was actually much closer to Gotti. Dellacroce's relationship with Ruggiero was tested when Peter Tambone, a Ruggiero associate, was arrested for narcotics trafficking. Dellacroce made it clear that he would kill Ruggiero, Gotti or anyone else that he discovered dealing in narcotics. To save Tambone's life, Ruggiero instructed Tambone to claim that he was never involved with the heroin, only the laundering of the drug money.
Sammy Gravano later said:
I don't think if he lived (Dellacroce), he would've let Angelo get murdered. He would have probably put him on a shelf somewhere and appease Paul that way. If he let Paul kill him, there would have been a war. I think he felt, Paul's the boss, so let's 'fess up, this is the truth, this is what happened, here are the tapes. Then, if Paul followed up and said, "Well, I want him dead", Neil would have fought tooth and nail to save him. And if he couldn't, who knows what the fuck would've happened?
He also later stated,
I don't think John (Gotti) gave a fuck about Angelo or the tapes. I think he was looking to create a situation to capitalize on our other grievances about Paul. There was tension between Aniello Dellacroce and his followers and Paul Castellano, and Frank DeCicco enjoyed their mutual respect. But when Ruggiero tried to convince DeCicco that Dellacroce had real disputes against Castellano, he did not believe him. To Ruggiero's unhappiness, DeCicco said that as far as he was concerned, his uncle was a faithful underboss to Paul Castellano. Angelo would also listen to his uncle's protege and childhood friend, John Gotti insult Dellacroce about his "La Cosa Nostra bullshit."
When Dellacroce was dying, Ruggiero was a constant visitor to his bedside until his death on December 2, 1985.
Ruggiero and Castellano
Following the diagnosis of his uncle's terminal cancer, Paul Castellano issued an even stronger edict on narcotics, ruling that any member of the family made after 1962 was strictly prohibited from any involvement in narcotics under pain of death. He followed up by pressuring the National Commission to issue a firm Mafia-wide ban that would also carry an instant death penalty. This new edict was aimed directly at John Gotti, Angelo, and Aniello, who Castellano began to suspect, had been secretly sanctioning (and profiting from) Gotti's narcotics operation. Castellano hoped that these and a number of other politically motivated moves in the crime family would brake the sudden, ambitious ascent of Angelo and John Gotti. Ruggiero frequently complained about the lack of money that he was earning through his illicit criminal enterprises. Authorities later commented that, judging by appearances, however, both Angelo and John seemed blithely unconcerned by a second consequence of the Ravenite social club wire tapping operation, a grand jury subpoena calling forth Angelo, John and ten other habitués of the Ravenite to discuss certain aspects of organized crime, as revealed by the successful Operation Acorn.
Gambino crime family capo John Carneglia often complained about Angelo to fellow criminals stating, "Dial any seven numbers, and there's a fifty-fifty chance that Angelo will answer the phone." Every other Sunday he drove to Castellano's house in Todt Hill, Staten Island to report to Castellano about the activities of the Bergin crew and the profits he could expect from the crew's hijacking and gambling operations. At home, Ruggiero would complain about Paul Castellano's high-handed manner. He sneered that Castellano was a "milk drinker" and a "pansy". He put down Castellano's two sons, who were running Dial Poultry, as "the chicken men" and called business advisers that Castellano had around him as "the Jew club." He referred to Thomas Gambino, who oversaw the family's interests in the garment center as a "sissy dressmaker". He also conjured up images of Castellano and Bilotti spending evenings together at Todt Hill, "whacking off."
On December 16, 1985, only two weeks after Dellacroce's death, Castellano and his new underboss Thomas Bilotti were murdered outside a steakhouse in Manhattan. John Gotti now assumed the role of Gambino family boss
Ruggiero and the Gottis
Given John Gotti's new position of Gambino crime family boss in 1985, Gotti no longer handled the actual specifics of contract killings, and assigned the job to Ruggiero. But Ruggiero, who often let his emotions and mouth run away with him, would occasionally demonstrate a less than firm grasp of the arcane art of contract murder. On a recorded conversation he once threatened to throw two former drug traffickers looking for payment in the pool of his Cedarhurst home where he told them he kept "man eating" sharks.
Angelo frequently insulted Gotti behind his back, which were recorded on FBI wiretaps. He considered John a "sick motherfucker" whose "fucking mouth goes a mile a minute." He also complained that Gotti was always "abusing" and "talking about people" and was "wrong on a lot of things." Even so, he spoke of a love for him that he equated to a "brother". Angelo was considered John Gotti's biggest ego booster among his close associates, despite the behind the back barbs. He later became a father figure of John Gotti Jr. who considered him an "uncle" although they were not related by marriage or blood.
Angelo maintained a close relationship with John Gotti's son, John A. Gotti. Over the years he was referred to affectionately as "uncle." Angelo counseled Gotti Jr. about his alleged involvement in the 1983 slaying of Daniel Silva, a twenty-four-year-old man stabbed to death during a barroom brawl at which Gotti publicly acknowledged being present, but denied any responsibility. Although the Ruggiero and Gotti families have close long lasting ties, when Peter Gotti and Gotti Jr. were promoted to boss of the Gambino crime family, Angelo's son Angelo Ruggiero Jr. and his nephew Salvatore Ruggiero Jr. were not promoted to the ranks of being a made man, as Angelo's uncle Dellacroce had done for Junior's father, John Gotti. This might be due to the legal troubles Angelo Ruggiero Sr. brought upon John Gotti and the Gambino crime family after having his house tapped by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Department of Justice.
Relationship with Wilfred Johnson
For reasons which have never been made entirely clear, mob associate Wilfred Johnson hated Angelo. Out of all the members of the Bergin crew he seemed most intent as an informant on hurting Angelo, whom he referred to as "that fat fuck". However, Johnson pointedly did not include John Gotti in his discussion of the Bergin narcotics operation, insisting to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that he didn't know too much about that subject. The FBI suspected this was a lie but Johnson nevertheless provided them with precise sketches of the interior of the Ruggiero home in Cedarhurst, New York, accompanied by recommendations on the best places to plant a wire transmitter. When the bug was planted in 1982, the FBI was provided with what is now considered by many in law enforcement as one of the most remarkable oral histories ever recorded on the progress of a major criminal conspiracy. He later helped murder Gambino crime family street soldier Anthony Plate, with John Gotti and Wilfred Johnson, for his uncle Dellacroce in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Threatening Ronald Reagan
In 1984 Angelo spread a rumor in organized crime circles a few days before he and John Gotti were spotted by United States Secret Service agents and New York City Police Department (NYPD) detectives eating at the Sheraton Centre Hotel in Manhattan. President Reagan was coming to the hotel that day to address at state Republican Party meeting, and the president's protectors told Angelo and John that they would feel more comfortable if they left before his arrival. Gotti and Ruggiero were extremely proud of the fact that they intimidated the Secret Service and the NYPD as being potentially harmful to President Ronald Reagan. John and Angelo went and made sure everyone in the Gambino crime family knew about the incident.
Citing Wilfred Johnson, Jame Cardinali, Mark Reiter and George Yudzevich, FBI informants, the FBI's "Gambino Squad" in Queens, New York received permission from the United States Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. to seek a wiretap order on Angelo's home phone which was granted November 9, 1981. They were investigating loansharking and illegal gambling, but soon turned their attention towards the trafficking of heroin. The tapped telephone in Angelo's home was listed in his daughter Princess Ruggiero's name. It was singled out because he had told informants it was "safe". They said that Angelo, only a few months after the Bergin wiretapping from Queens officials, was openly discussing on the phone the loansharking and gambling rackets that he, John Gotti and Gene Gotti operated.
In its initial request to wiretap the telephone, the FBI listed Peter Gotti and Richard Gotti as loanshark collectors and stated that Angelo was a "known murderer who would, without question, seek physical retribution and possibly murder a shylock victim who is unable to pay his debts." Somehow Angelo found out that agents had been listening to him and went into hiding. The affidavit caused panic and deception within the Dellacroce–Gotti faction regime and the Paul Castellano loyalists in the Gambino crime family, whose titular boss equated drug dealing with death. Somehow, sometime in late June 1985, the Bergin crew finally demonstrated it could get accurate information. Angelo obtained a pasted-together version of the last of the FBI's six Angelo electronic-surveillance affidavits. The notes told him that FBI Agent John Conroy was not all he cracked himself up to be and that attorney Michael Coiro was not wired into the Eastern District as he imagined. Critically, the FBI working papers confirmed the depth of the probe, and that it was supported by a three-bug invasion of his home. Sources advised Angelo Ruggiero became scared to death because he had been lying systematically to Paul Castellano and his uncle Aniello Dellacroce insofar as he had constantly told them that he had not been dealing in drugs by himself, by merely cleaning up loose ends of his brother Salvatore's narcotics operation.
On December 1, 1984 the Angelo wiretap was removed because he moved from Howard Beach, Queens to Cedarhurst, New York, to a house he was having renovated. Angelo told informants it was a good move for him and that the FBI would not know where he lived. In fact, pen registers at the Our Friends Social Club had disclosed several calls to his home in Cedarhurst and FBI agents were watching on the day Angelo moved in. The agents had increased physical surveillance of Angelo and John Gotti, suspecting they might be dealing drugs. Despite Angelo's growing uneasiness and despite his efforts to discuss matters in code, evidence of narcotics trafficking began to grow around him mostly from his tape recorded telephone conversations with drug traffickers Alphonse Sisca and Arnold Squitieri.
On April 17, 1984 he met with Jack Conroy. Jack Conroy was an associate who said he had a source who worked at the telephone company, which is notified when phones are being legally tapped, and he could find out who authorized the taps. A week later, he told Angelo this would cost $1,000- $800 for his telephone company source and $200 each for he and his partner. Angelo agreed. In a few days, Conroy delivered a bill of goods. He said the taps were legal because of a March 18 federal court order in the Southern District of New York, which is Manhattan and the Bronx. This invention caused Angelo to speculate that he was only peripherally involved in an investigation aimed at someone else. Just in case, however, he told Conroy, who had just suckered Angelo out of $1,000, that he would get some other telephone numbers for him to check. No problem, Conroy told Ruggiero. Jack Conroy was really an undercover FBI agent who was posing as a telephone repairman.
Angelo at the time the indictments were being prepared seemed to not be worried of the outcome of the trial. He spent $40,000 on remodeling his home in Cedarhurst and was overheard saying, "the bugs in this house were a bunch of bullshit and nothing is coming." His confidence later seemed ridiculous, even to his confederates. In court one day, John Carneglia stated: "Dial any seven numbers and there's a fifty-fifty chance Angelo will answer the phone."
After Paul was arrested for racketeering and other crimes, he learned for the first time that his home had been bugged by the FBI, and that the Ruggiero tapes were the legal basis for it. Paul went to Angelo's uncle, Aniello Dellacroce and demanded him to give over the tapes. Dellacroce tried to placate Paul Castellano, saying that there were many personally embarrassing moments on the tapes that Angelo did not want anyone to hear. He said that he wanted the tapes not to justify murdering him, but for his lawyers who were trying to suppress the introduction of his own tapes in the upcoming 1985 Mafia Commission Trial. In ensuing sessions between Ruggiero, Gotti and Dellacroce, Ruggiero remained adamant about not giving up the tapes. He accused his uncle of betrayal for even entertaining the thought. He told his lawyers he would kill them if they gave up the tapes.
Sammy Gravano stated, "I didn't know till later that the bug on him gave the government the OK, the right legally, to bug Paul (Paul Castellano)'s house. It was Angie's big mouth. I mean, he's caught on tape all over the fucking place. His tapes, the tape with Gerry Lang (Gennaro Langella) and Donnie Shacks (Dominick Martomorano). You name it and Angie's on tape. And always talking about stuff that he ain't supposed to be even mentioning to anybody. We find out about the tapes on Angie when he was arrested. And they eventually would become a major fucking problem. Ultimately, people would say these tapes and what was on them probably led to Paul's downfall. But what really led to it was also a lot of things he was doing that people in the family were against, and when the time came, when it came down the wire, this was why me and Frank DeCicco and the other guys went along with it. Right then though, Angie's tapes had nothing to do with me whatsoever. I was never at Angie's house. I'm not on any of his tapes in any way, shape or form. That was all Angie's problem. John Gotti's problem. And Paul's."
The murder of DiBernardo and attempted murder of Casso
In June 1986 he successfully arranged the murder of Gambino crime family capo, Robert DiBernardo. Angelo started talking subversively about Robert. Sammy Gravano later said,
I said to Angie that if DiB said anything, it didn't mean nothing. Just talk. DiB wasn't dangerous. I asked Angie to reach John and see if we couldn't hold up on this, and when John came out, we would discuss it. It was something we could hold up on. But Angie immediately responded that it had to be done. John was steaming. John's brother Genie, and Genie's crew would the hit at this house of the mother of one of the soldiers. I was to get DiB there for a meeting, and whoever was sitting behind DiB would shoot him. But the house wasn't available. Angie came back to me. He said John was really hot. He wanted it done right, he wanted it done right, and he wanted me to do it. I didn't know what Angie was telling John about my reservations. I knew Angie was into DiB for $250,000. I would imagine that this could've played a part in everything. But I don't know if John knew that. Maybe John had some other motives, some hidden resentment in the past. Frankie (Frank DeCicco) and me had a tough time even getting John to elevate DiB to captain after Paul (Paul Castellano) got hit. But I never questioned that he gave the order."
In all likelihood, the above statement is false, self-serving on Gravano's part. Other sources, along with Gravano himself (on tape from an apartment above the Bergin Hunt and Fish Club) trace the money to Gravano. DiBernardo and Gravano also had other, combined, lucrative business interests. Gravano's greed eventually led him to want DiBernardo out of the picture.
But later botched the murder of Lucchese crime family mobster Anthony Casso, who was a "soldier" at the time. Casso openly called Ruggiero an "idiot". Insulted, Ruggiero decided to have Casso murdered, a task entrusted to Michael Paradiso, one of John Gotti's oldest friends. Paradiso, in turn, assigned the actual task of killing to three hoodlums, including a Staten Island thug named James Hydell, a nephew of Gambino crime family capo Daniel Marino. Hydell shot Casso five times, but failed to kill him, a mistake that proved costly: kidnapped by Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito, Hydell was hideously tortured by Anthony Casso for twelve hours, then killed, all as a warning to Ruggiero.
The incident further rattled Gotti's faith in Ruggiero's abilities as a capo, and created a major managerial problem: as family boss, Gotti was being ushered into the great riches of the upper-level rackets, ones that required captains with some intelligence and business sense who could help him run the organization. Ruggiero proved to have none of these attributes. After the attempted shooting of Anthony Casso, John Gotti Jr. later stated that Ruggiero was placed on the "shelf" for ordering the attack. Despite orders from his father, John Jr. continued his friendship with his father's old friend and spoke to him regularly.
Personal toll over Salvatore's death
After Angelo was notified of his brother, Salvatore's death in a plane crash, he, along with Gene Gotti and John Carneglia, went to Salvatore's hideout in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, searching for a yet-to-be-sold shipment of heroin and cash. A few months earlier however, hoping to catch up with his elusive brother and to gain evidence to indict John Gotti, the FBI's Gambino Squad had thoroughly wired Angelo's home. Not only was his telephone line bugged, but microphones were placed in his kitchen, den and dining room. Federal agents were able to record Angelo's attorney Micheal Coiro, offering condolences to Angelo on the death of his brother, and then saying, "Gene found the heroin." The talk of heroin in the wake of Salvatore's death and the connection to a Gotti family relative seized the attention of the investigating FBI agents. The investigation into Angelo suddenly held promise in leading to indictments of major family operatives.
Angelo was known as a constant chatter-box, providing a running commentary on everything going on around him. Everyone who visited him had to endure endless gossip, complaints and general indiscretions. The death of his brother Salvatore hit Angelo hard, and he was often overheard on FBI wiretaps in his Cedarhurst, New York home wistfully speaking of his brother to Gerlando Sciascia and Joseph LoPresti, his two drug trafficking partners. Unlike his brother Salvatore who became a multi-millionaire from his successful large scale drug trafficking operation, Angelo would never rise above a wealthy street-level mobster. He later told Joseph LoPresti, "You know I lost my brother. I said to myself: "I'll have to get drunk". I had two vodkas... I went in my room, I closed the door and I cried...." The bugs also overheard Angelo saying how difficult it was accepting his brother's death because the body was in "fuckin pieces." He added: "If he would have been shot in the head and [they] found him in the streets- that's part of our life, I could accept that."
A memorial service was held in Howard Beach, Queens at his Mother Emma Campasano-Ruggiero's home. Afterward Angelo said his late younger brother, "... had a pretty good, nice sendoff. I mean my whole fucking family [and]... all the wiseguys in the family (Gambino crime family) were there." Angelo who had scheduled a secret rendezvous with Salvatore for that day made arrangements for the welfare of his brother's children.
Actions at 1985 preliminary hearing
At a hearing to decide whether Angelo's bail should be revoked, an FBI agent testified that an informant said that Gotti and Angelo choreographed the murders of Thomas Bilotti and Paul Castellano. With his freedom on the line Angelo blurted out, "This is like Russia." Later, when a judge ordered him to jail, Angelo lost his temper and appeared to threaten a prosecutor when he pointed his finger and said, "Go home and celebrate with your family! Go ahead and laugh!"
Falling out with John Gotti and death
After the first heroin trafficking case against Ruggiero, Gene Gotti and John Carneglia ended in a mistrial, because of jury tampering, Ruggiero remained in federal detention, his bail still revoked, for the second trial. This also resulted in a mistrial, again for suspected jury tampering. For the third trial, in 1989, Ruggiero was finally released on bail and served as a defendant in the case. He had terminal lung cancer. Later, his drug trafficking partners Gene Gotti and John Carneglia were both convicted and sentenced to 50 years. Sammy Gravano then heard that John wanted to have Angelo murdered for allowing himself to be recorded by the FBI. Sammy convinced Gotti that because Angelo was dying of cancer that it was not even worth it to carry out the execution. Instead, John stripped Angelo of his rank as caporegime of the Bergin crew and severed him from all criminal activities.
After turning state's evidence to avoid prosecution, former underboss Sammy Gravano reported that during the last months of Angelo's life both he and Gene Gotti urged John to visit his near death childhood friend. Gotti refused to see his once loyal soldier and friend because he was still angry over Ruggiero's criminal activities being recorded on wire taps.
In 1989, Angelo Ruggiero died of cancer in Howard Beach, Queens, at the age of 49 years. Gravano also claimed that he nearly had to drag Gotti to attend his wake.
His son and namesake, Angelo Ruggiero Jr., and Ruggiero Sr.'s, paternal nephew Salvatore Ruggiero Jr. would later follow their fathers into an organized crime "career". Angelo Jr. was convicted of grand larceny in May, 1998, and sent to prison for one to three years.
Portrayals in film and television
- In 1996, he was portrayed by actor Vincent Pastore in the HBO television movie Gotti.
- In 1998, he was portrayed by actor Johnny Williams in the NBC television movie Witness to the Mob.
- In 2001, he was portrayed by actor Vito Rezza in the TNT television movie Boss of Bosses.
- He will be played by Pruitt Taylor Vince in the film Gotti.
- Capeci, Jerry. The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Mafia. Indianapolis: Alpha Books, 2002. ISBN 0-02-864225-2
- Davis, John H. Mafia Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the Gambino Crime Family. New York: HarperCollins, 1993. ISBN 0-06-016357-7
- Jacobs, James B., Christopher Panarella and Jay Worthington. Busting the Mob: The United States Vs. Cosa Nostra. New York: NYU Press, 1994. ISBN 0-8147-4230-0
- Maas, Peter. Underboss: Sammy the Bull Gravano's Story of Life in the Mafia. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997. ISBN 0-06-093096-9
- Raab, Selwyn. Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires. New York: St. Martin Press, 2005. ISBN 0-312-30094-8
- Willis, Clint (ed.) Wise Guys: Stories of Mobsters from Jersey to Vegas. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 2003. ISBN 1-56025-498-X
- Gangland: How the FBI Broke the Mob, p 88
- The Rat by Allan May
- Maas, Peter. Underboss: Sammy the Bull Gravano's Story of Life in the Mafia. p. 309, p.293-294 New York City: HarperCollins, 1996. ISBN 978-0-06-093096-7.
- Szalai, Georg (April 12, 2011). "John Travolta: 'Gotti' Movie Is America's 'Most Interesting Untold Story'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 6, 2012.